Spinal cord injuries can be among the worst injuries that one can suffer. Depending on the severity of the injury, damage to the spinal cord could leave you reliant on medical care for the rest of your life. Obviously, this can be incredibly costly. If that injury was caused by negligence or a failure to uphold a duty of care, then the legal system is designed with the purpose of getting you the compensation you deserve for your injury.
To understand what actions you should take after being injured, we’ll first look at what causes a spinal cord injury, the types of spinal cord injuries there are, and what type of effects they leave on the human body. From there we’ll look at what you should do following a spinal cord injury, as well as what legal rights you have following a spinal cord injury to help you determine whether or not you should consider taking legal action related to your spinal cord injury.
What Causes a Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal cord injuries can be caused by a number of factors; essentially, anything that can cause trauma to the vertebrae, the disks of the spinal column, the ligaments, or the spinal cord itself. However, not all spinal cord injuries are traumatic. Trauma that compresses the spine is often the cause but it is far from the only. Some examples of how one might injure their spinal cord are:
- Car Accidents: Car accidents are far and away the most common way that people injure their spinal cords. Roughly half of the spinal cord injuries in a given year will be caused by car accidents.
- Diseases: Diseases such as cancer, arthritis, and many others, can cause inflammation of the spinal cord or spinal cord injuries. Also, keep in mind that a disease might not cause the injury itself but make your spinal cord more susceptible to injury.
- Falling: Whether or not a fall will cause an injury to the spinal cord is entirely dependent on how you landed. However, roughly one-third of all spinal cord injuries are caused by falls, which makes falling the second most common way of damaging the spinal cord.
- Gun Shot Wounds: Violent encounters make up close to 15% of spinal cord injuries, with gunshots being among the more common of the ways to damage the spinal cord through violence. Knife wounds can also damage the spinal cord.
- Sports Injuries: Sports injuries are those that occur while playing but often the damage is due to falling the wrong way or slamming into another player with enough force to compress the spinal cord. Similarly, spinal cord injuries can also happen at the pool, such as when somebody accidentally dives into the shallow end.
Spinal cord injuries come in two forms:
- Complete: Complete spinal cord injuries are those that leave permanent damage to the affected area of the spinal cord. This includes paraplegia, tetraplegia, or triplegia.
- Incomplete: Incompletely spinal cord injuries are partial damage to the spinal cord. This includes anterior cord syndrome, Brown-Sequard syndrome, or central cord syndrome.
Spinal cord injuries can cause:
- Loss of movement
- Loss of sensation
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Changes in sexual function
- Difficulty breathing
What Should I Do After Injuring My Spinal Cord?
Spinal cord injuries are medical emergencies. The first thing to do is to seek medical treatment. This will help you with the medical emergency but it also allows you to get a record of the injury as seen by a professional.
If possible, get photos of where the accident happened and gather eyewitness reports. It’s a good idea to get a friend to do this while you wait for medical care or while you’ve left to seek it.
When you have a chance, write down everything you can remember about the accident. Include as much detail as you possibly can. Anything that doesn’t matter can be removed at a later date, but capturing your memories of events while they are still fresh in your mind will help you and your attorney at a later date.
Speak to an attorney to see if the details of your injury and accident leave room for seeking compensation through the legal system.
What Are My Legal Rights Following a Spinal Cord Injury?
If your spinal cord injury was caused because of another person’s negligence or their failure to live up to their legal duty of care then you have the right to seek compensation from them through a personal injury claim. A family member could also press the claim on your behalf.
To win a personal injury claim you’ll have to show that:
- The other party acted in a negligent manner and so failed to keep you safe
- You suffered an injury; in this case, that would be damage to your spinal cord
- The injury that you suffered was due to the negligent manner in which the other party acted
Spinal cord injuries can be incredibly expensive, sometimes as much as $30,000 in a year. It only makes sense that the party responsible for harming you be held responsible for helping you pay for the damage they did. Remember, too, that this is just the cost of medical treatment and it doesn’t include things like the emotional and mental damage you’ve suffered due to the injury or the income it has caused you to lose.
Can an Attorney Help Me with My Spinal Cord Injury?
An attorney, such as those at Lipcon & Lipcon, P.A, will fight tooth and nail to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. They’ll help you to gather evidence and prove that your injury was directly caused by the negligent manner in which the other party acted. A good attorney will also be able to provide you with resources that can help you with your journey of healing, growing, and adapting to your newfound circumstances.
If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury, reach out to Lipcon & Lipcon, P.A, to see how we can help today.